Has Florida Gone from Swing State to Leans Republican?

Has the state of Florida drifted out of being a swing state leaning Democrat and into the world of “leans Republican”? This would be big electoral news if it turns out to be true because Florida has one of the nation’s biggest populations and has been a swing state for some time.

The assessment that Florida has left the land of leans left to leans right has been made by left-wing elections watcher Larry Sabato whose “Crystal Ball” is often cited as an expert by the liberal media.

At the end of February, the University of Virginia’s political forecasting team released its 2020 electoral projections. And perhaps the biggest surprise was the assessment about Florida.

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Sabato noted:

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This decade, Florida has featured two presidential contests, three gubernatorial races, and one Senate race each decided by a margin of 1.2 points or less. The Republicans won all but one of those races. Are the Democrats just unlucky, or does the GOP have a very small but steady edge in Florida?

This is a blow to the left that has for years considered Florida to be one of its bulwarks against the Republican Party. But, as Sabato notes, they have been thwarted more often than not lately.

Sabato dived deeper:

Florida, a bona fide swing state, voting Republican for Senate, too? We know that Nelson was a weak incumbent whose age was showing, and that now-Sen. Rick Scott (R) was an unusually strong and well-funded challenger in a year like 2018. Still, Scott winning was, it has to be said, one of the great electoral oddities in midterm Senate election history. As Alan Abramowitz pointed out after the election, Scott’s performance in Florida stood out: It was the only state where his basic model predicting 2018 Senate results based on a state’s partisan lean and incumbency showed that the GOP clearly should have lost, but didn’t.

That made Sabato wonder if the state should now be considered “leans GOP.”

As far as Sabato is concerned, there are now six states that lean Republican. Those states include Florida, Iowa, Texas, Ohio, Georgia and North Carolina.

Meanwhile, Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan, Maine, and Virginia lean Democrat.

But here are the numbers: The “leans Republicans” states account for 124 electoral college votes. On the other hand, the leans Democrats states only add up to 56. So, if in the coming 2020 elections all the “leans” go where they supposedly lean, the Republicans have a big edge. And if the GOP peals off even one of those leans, the Democrats are doomed.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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